Airbnb ‘should donate £ 5 for every stay in Cornwall’

Following a program introduced by Airbnb to ensure residents of Edinburgh benefit directly from its homestay tourism this summer, there have been calls for the company to introduce a similar fund in Cornwall.

Airbnb introduced the Edinburgh Community Fund as the city rebuilds after the pandemic. He donates £ 5 for every stay in the city in August to help community organizations and projects.

There are now calls for the US company to follow suit in Cornwall, which has more than 10,000 Airbnb properties. There have been criticisms that the high number of Airbnb rentals adds to a growing housing crisis in the Duchy.

Read more: Tens of thousands sign petition to end the ‘threat’ of second homes in Cornwall

The American company – which specializes in online marketing of vacation rentals in private homes – said: “Around the world, Airbnb supports the collection and remittance of tourist taxes as a way to ensure that tourism gives back to communities. and believes that it should depend on each local. community to determine if a tourist tax is right for them.

“In Edinburgh, which does not have a tourist tax mechanism in place, Airbnb is committed to ensuring that residents benefit from each individual stay this summer, much like the operation of a tourist tax. ”

Cornwall – which also has no tourist tax – had more than 10,290 active Airbnb listings in early June when there were just 69 rental units available across the county.

In most of Cornwall’s popular towns and villages, including Newquay, St Ives, Penzance and Bude, there were over 300 active listings for each on Airbnb – the highest number visible on the site.

These statistics have raised fears that landlords will hunt tenants in favor of vacationers, which would further exacerbate the housing shortage.

A petition, launched last week that raises the Airbnb problem, has already collected more than 40,000 signatures. The signatories’ goal is to “cap local rents, raise the tax on second homes and save Cornwall’s precious coastal communities. Cornwall is dangerously on the brink of a homeless crisis and Cornwall Council must act NOW “.

Emmie Kell, Managing Director of the Cornwall Museums Partnership, shared Airbnb’s post about her Edinburgh fund on Twitter and asked: “Can we have something similar in Cornwall, please?”

One response said: ‘The excuse that Cornwall cannot do it because it would be the only one and it would be unfair is very slim. Scotland and Wales are leading the way and it is time to catch up . ”

“It would be much better if you limited the number of properties in each area. You have a direct impact on the ability of people to live and work in Cornwall. People are functionally homeless because of your business,” was a response to Airbnb’s original tweet about the Edinburgh fund.

Steve Double, Tory MP for St Austell and Newquay – a resort with hundreds of Airbnb rooms – said he would support a similar program for Cornwall.

He told CornwallLive: “I read with interest Airbnb’s announcement that to ensure that locals benefit directly from tourism in Edinburgh this summer, and as the city rebuilds itself after the pandemic, they have introduced the Edinburgh Community Fund.

“These are unprecedented times and if this is something that Airbnb would consider a similar program for its hosts in Cornwall, for this year, then I would certainly support and encourage it as a method of providing a direct benefit to residents of. Cornwall as we recover from the pandemic. “

A Labor member of the Cornwall Council said she would welcome such a program in Cornwall as well, but believes that this is the thinnest part of the corner and that it is a proper regulatory system that is really necessary.

Jayne Kirkham, who represents the Penwerris neighborhood in Falmouth – a town that also has a large number of Airbnb properties – said: “This kind of voluntary tourist tax from big business and trying to redirect tourists to less crowded areas is of course. welcome because Airbnb is making a lot of money in places like Cornwall.

“But what we really need is formal regulation and security checks on Airbnbs and other informal rentals that are not subject to them like vacation rentals, hotels, vacation parks. etc. A Cornwall Live article recently reported 69 Cornwall properties for rent versus 10,000 Airbnbs and the number is growing, leading families to be evicted from rental properties so they can be rented out as Airbnbs.

“The council recently confirmed costs of £ 6million for housing our emergency homeless people in Cornwall and proposed sites with containers on them, while the properties are empty as second homes or are leased as Airbnbs. ”

Jayne Kirkham, Cornwall Union Advisor

The adviser, who spoke on Cornwall’s housing problems, added: “There is no control over this through the planning system, the tax system or the regulatory system. Control their numbers in the areas with high housing need, they cannot even control access and security.

“There are remedies that could be used if the power were vested in the councils to do so. Make short-term vacation rental a separate planning use class, charge additional taxes for affordable housing in Cornwall, provide more social housing, etc.

“In summary, the willful actions of big companies like Airbnb will not solve the Cornwall housing crisis they are contributing to. We need regulation, oversight and local authority powers to even get started. to face this emergency. ”

Abigail Harding, who set up the recent housing petition, said of the Airbnb fund: “It seems to me like a very ineffective band-aid. The problem needs regulation, not money. It doesn’t recognize not the devastating impact of the Airbnb effect on the private rental market or the ripple effects which, in turn, have on Cornish communities and the Cornish economy when key workers and professionals can no longer afford to live here. “

Airbnb said in a statement: “Cornwall is an important region for Airbnb and one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations. The Community Fund is being tested in Edinburgh and we are monitoring it closely before considering launching similar programs elsewhere.
“We take housing issues seriously and have called for the introduction of an industry-wide short-term rental operator registry and welcomed the government’s decision to actively look into this issue. . “

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